Mass celebrated at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne, on Sunday, 25 October 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Many of us have come to know the joy and privilege of having been taught by a capable and devoted teacher. There may be someone in your life, as in mine, who particularly stands out as readily using their gifts in the service of the Gospel and was able to convey what they taught with conviction and hope because of their skill and their love of us. Many of us have known one of those special people, whose talent for teaching has stirred in us a sense of discovery and left us hungering for more. Fine teachers can turn on lights in darkened heads and open up a new world that invites deeper exploration, admiration and respect.

For me it was a history teacher who made the whole period of the Renaissance and Reformation come to life. We readily imagined ourselves present in the Medici palace in Florence, seeing the decadence and yet the involvement with the arts. Another great teacher inspired in me an understanding of the ancient world of Rome in the Roman antiquities that accompanied our Latin studies.

For each of us good teachers are most often also good people, whose character and lifestyle teach and challenge their students to respond, to grow into adults worthy of their mentoring. Goethe wrote these words, “A teacher who arouses feelings in us for one good action accomplishes more than the teacher who fills our head with interminable lists of natural objects.”

Today’s Mass give us two great teachers: Jeremiah, with his awareness of God’s goodness and comforting grace; Bartimaeus in the Gospel, who is so burdened by his blindness that he calls out to Jesus Christ and shows us the importance of not wallowing in our present difficulties, but coming to the Lord.

Notice in the first Reading and also in Bartimaeus that it was their faith that inspired them to hold fast to God and to move forward from there. The remnants of Israel were, in the words of the Reading; poor, disenfranchised, blind, lame, and it shows how God cares for us. Similarly, Bartimaeus could not see, but he knew enough to call out to Jesus.

But this remnant of faith also teaches us hope. Hope reminds us that God promises and his promises are never broken. It dares us to follow as God leads us and invites us to cry out, “Jesus, have pity on me”. Hope will not be overcome by doubt. When its questions are answered we can see new possibilities.

A Hindu poet even wrote, “Death is not extinguishing the light; it’s putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.” And in the Gospel the dawn comes to blind Bartimaeus ending his long night of darkness. Yet notice what he did. He did not just stop and wait for things to happen. He boldly called out to Jesus.

If we take Isaiah 9:2, “We are a people who have walked in darkness, but by discovering Jesus we have found a great light.”

The challenge that is given to us is that all we think and say and do is surrounded and directed by Jesus Christ. It is our relationship with him, our conquest of his truth and our readiness to follow no matter what, which will lead us forward and inspire us.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.
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